One of the things that came out of the Big Fight of 2013 is the realization that Chris and I had stopped sharing small things about our days with each other. Either because we were afraid it would lead to some kid of argument over something silly or because we just didn’t feel like talking to the other person, we would ask, “How was your day?” and each of us would respond, “It was fine.” And that was about it. For, like, two months.
We’re really trying to make an effort now to listen and share about our days. Which means that when Chris says, “My day was alright,” I am now trying to ask, “Just alright? Anything going on?” Instead of pretending like I didn’t hear him so that I didn’t have to get into a conversation about it. If you haven’t been around the general and production manager of a regional theater in a while, let me share the suspense – their daily list of annoyances are just the same as in any office anywhere in the world. Which, to be frank, is sort of boring to listen to. But, I’m trying to make an effort, so I have been asking about his job and I’ve even been listening to what he says! Look at me go!
What I’ve learned is that in listening to him talk about his days, I’m not necessarily listening for office gossip or irritating frustrations. I’m listening to how those things impact Chris. Is he stressing over them? Is he angry about them? Is he fed up with them? Is he humored by them? Because how he handles his work life greatly impacts how he handles his home life. So, if I know that something happened at work that day that put a lot on his plate and stressed him out, I’m going to respond to that by giving him a little room when he gets home. Maybe picking up some of the chores that he usually does to give him a break. And he has been doing the same thing for me, too.
Hearing about each other’s work life is important because, whether we like it or not, our work life does come home with us. It comes home in our attitudes and in our moods, at the very least. And paying more attention to what’s happening to Chris during his days is making a big difference in how I communicate in the evenings.
Look how smart I got! All because World War III broke out in my kitchen! Who would’ve thought?